Garrett Morris

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Garrett Morris
Morris in 2013
Born
Garrett Isaac Morris

(1937-02-01) February 1, 1937 (age 87)
EducationJuilliard School
Dillard University (BM)
Occupation(s)Actor, comedian, singer
Years active1960–present
Known forSaturday Night Live
The Wayans Bros
The Jamie Foxx Show
2 Broke Girls
Spouse
Freda Morris
(m. 1996)

Garrett Isaac Morris (born February 1, 1937) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and singer.[1] He was part of the original cast and was the first black cast member of the sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live, appearing from 1975 to 1980, and played Jimmy on The Jeffersons (1983–1984). Morris had one of the starring roles as Junior "Uncle Junior" King on the sitcom The Jamie Foxx Show, which aired from 1996 to 2001. Morris also had a starring role as Earl Washington on the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, from 2011 to 2017. He is also known for his role in the sitcom Martin as Stan Winters, from 1992 to 1995 until he suffered an injury. Also, he made two guest appearances on The Wayans Bros. in season one, episode one as himself and again on episode ten as the brothers' uncle Leon (1995). He played a concerned teacher in the film Cooley High (1975), Slide in Car Wash (1976), and Carl in The Census Taker (1984).

Early life and career[edit]

Morris was born on February 1, 1937, in New Orleans, Louisiana, and grew up in the poverty-stricken Gert Town neighborhood in its 16th Ward.[2] A church-choir singer from his youth, he trained at the Juilliard School of Music and graduated from Dillard University in 1958. Early in his career, he performed with The Belafonte Folk Singers. In 1960 Garret Morris recorded South African Freedom Songs (EPC-601) with Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan for Folkways Records.[3] He performed in a number of Broadway musicals, including Hallelujah, Baby! and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. In 1965, he worked alongside Amiri Baraka, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler and Sonia Sanchez at the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School in Harlem; during this period, the theater was frequently raided and surveilled by the New York City Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[4][5] He had a small role as a police sergeant in The Anderson Tapes (1971) and was a cast member in the short-lived CBS sitcom, Roll Out. He also appeared as a high school teacher in the 1975 film Cooley High.

Morris also lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Morris had written a play that Lorne Michaels read and liked, which got Morris hired onto as a writer for a program he was developing for Saturday night. Morris was asked about bringing in black actors to potentially serve as cast members, such as asking Bill Duke. Duke wasn't cast, but a suggestion by ones who were cast led Michaels to view a film that had Morris in it with Cooley High, which Morris later stated "played a hand" in getting him cast on Saturday Night Live, as produced by Michaels.[6][7] Periodically on SNL he sang classical music: once a Mozart aria "Dalla Sua Pace", Don Ottavio's aria from Don Giovanni when guest-host Walter Matthau designated him as a "musical guest...in place of the usual crap", and once a Schubert lied while the titles on the screen expressed his colleagues' purported displeasure at having to accommodate a misguided request by him. In February 1977, he sang Tchaikovsky's Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt barefoot in colorful Caribbean dress while subtitles explained he had just returned from Jamaica where he had picked up a girl by claiming to be Harry Belafonte.

One of Morris' best known characters on SNL was the Dominican baseball player Chico Escuela. Chico spoke only limited and halting English, so the joke centered on his responding to almost any question with his catch phrase: "Baseball... been berra berra good... to me". Another recurring bit, used in the newscast segment Weekend Update, involved Morris being presented as "President of the New York School for the hard of hearing" and assisting the newscaster by shouting the main headlines, in a parody of the then-common practice of providing sign language interpretation in an inset on the screen as an aid to the deaf viewer.

According to the book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, Morris was frequently unhappy during his tenure on SNL from 1975 to 1980, and expressed the opinion that he was usually typecast in stereotypical roles.[8] Black performers who have followed Morris on SNL have at times been publicly concerned with experiencing the same fate Morris did. Eddie Murphy, for example, told TV Guide in the early 1980s that SNL producer Jean Doumanian "had tried to Garrett Morris me".[8]

Recurring characters[edit]

  • Chico Escuela, a Dominican baseball player for the New York Mets
  • Cliff, the streetwise friend to the Festrunk Brothers (Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin)
  • Grant Robinson, Jr., one of The Nerds
  • Hodo, one of Miles Cowperthwaite's cronies
  • Merkon, the leader of the Coneheads
  • Weekend Update's "News for the Hard of Hearing" translator, who simply repeated each line while shouting with his hands cupped around his mouth.

Later life and career[edit]

In 1976, Morris appeared in the film Car Wash, playing the role of Slide the bookmaker. In 1983 and 1984, Morris appeared in five episodes of The Jeffersons, playing a character named Jimmy. He starred in the 1984 film The Census Taker, a 1984 black comedy directed by Bruce R. Cook.[9][10]

In 1985, he appeared in Larry Cohen's science fiction horror film The Stuff, playing cookie magnate "Chocolate Chip Charlie", a parody of Famous Amos. That year he also guested on Murder, She Wrote as "Lafayette Duquesne". In 1986, Morris began playing a regular occasional character, "Arnold 'Sporty' James", on the NBC cop drama Hunter, starring Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer. Morris appeared in Married... with Children as Russ, one of Al's poker buddies, in "The Poker Game", in a 1987 season 1 episode and again in the season 3 episode "Requiem for a Dead Barber". Garrett Morris continually appeared as "Sporty" on Hunter through 1989. He also appeared in the 1992 horror comedy Severed Ties starring Oliver Reed.

In 1994, he was "shot by a would-be mugger", whom he "attempted to fight off", but recovered as he discussed on the January 14, 2016, episode of Marc Maron's podcast WTF. On Howard Stern's radio show on July 20, 1995, Morris said the culprit was imprisoned not for the shooting, but for parole violations for other crimes. In another radio interview, he mentioned that the robber who shot him was eventually convicted and incarcerated. In prison, inmates who happened to be fans of Morris teamed up and beat up the robber in revenge.[11] At the time of the shooting, Morris was starring on Martin as Martin's first boss, Stan Winters. Morris' shooting rendered him temporarily unable to continue in the role; he was written out of the show by having the character become a national fugitive. The scene where he is about to undergo plastic surgery was shot on the hospital bed Morris occupied while recuperating from the 1994 assault. He made a final appearance as Stan during the show's third season, walking with a cane due to Morris' real injuries, but the reason given for Stan was that he had crashed his car during a police chase.[citation needed]

Morris also had regular roles on Diff'rent Strokes, The Jeffersons, Hill Street Blues, 227, and Roc. He also appeared in an episode of Who's the Boss, "Sam's Car" (1989), playing the role of Officer Audette. He was a regular cast member on The Jamie Foxx Show, playing Jamie's uncle, Junior King, for the show's entire run.[citation needed]

In 1998, Morris appeared as himself in the fourth episode of the fifth season of the TV series, Space Ghost Coast to Coast. In 2002, Morris made a cameo appearance on an episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Brittany Murphy. In 2006, Morris reprised his role as "Headmaster of the New York School for the Hard of Hearing" in a cameo on the TV series Family Guy, in the episode "Barely Legal". He continued to perform regularly in films. He also operated and was the host of his own comedy club, The Downtown Comedy Club, in downtown Los Angeles. On February 9, 2007, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa honored Garrett Morris for his work and contributions to the black community. He declared February 9, 2007, Garrett Morris Day and named The Downtown Comedy Club the official club of Los Angeles. In August 2008, Morris played the role of Reverend Pratt in the family comedy drama film, The Longshots, starring Ice Cube and Keke Palmer.

In 2009, Morris appeared in two TV commercials for the Nintendo DS—one featuring Mario Kart DS, and the other featuring Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!. In 2010, Morris appeared in a television commercial for Miller Lite. The national commercial, titled "PopPop", features Morris alongside actors Stacey Dash and Jason Weaver.[12] The commercial takes a light-hearted look at a family relationship with Morris playing the grandfather, PopPop, and Weaver as his grandson. Since summer 2010, Morris has appeared in an ad for Orbit gum in the United States.[citation needed] In 2011, Morris had a cameo role as a Catholic priest on the episode "Three Boys" on the Showtime series Shameless. He was cast as Earl in the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls,[13] which premiered on September 19, 2011. During the second season he faced a lawsuit from the Global Agency accusing him of not paying 10% of his income from the show as agreed. However, a rep from the show stated that he had not actually failed to do so.[14]

In 2015, Morris appeared as a cameo in Ant-Man, referencing an old SNL sketch in which he played the first live-action incarnation of the character.[15] On September 9, 2016, Morris and his family appeared on the ABC's game show Celebrity Family Feud, playing against Alfonso Ribeiro and Ribeiro's friends.[16] In 2018, Morris appeared in the NBC show This Is Us. In 2019, Morris appeared in the fifth episode of A Black Lady Sketch Show, titled "Why Are Her Pies Wet, Lord?".

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1970 Where's Poppa? Garrett
1971 The Anderson Tapes Sgt. Everson
1975 Cooley High Mr. Mason
1976 Car Wash Slide
1980 How to Beat the High Cost of Living Power & Light Man
1984 The Census Taker Harvey
1985 The Stuff "Chocolate Chip Charlie" W. Hobbs
1987 Critical Condition Helicopter Junkie
The Underachievers Dummont
1989 Dance to Win -
1991 Children of the Night Matty
Motorama Andy
Blackbird Fly - Short film
1992 Severed Ties Stripes
1993 Coneheads Capt. Orecruiser
1995 Black Scorpion Argyle
1996 Black Rose of Harlem Wisdom
Santa with Muscles Clayton
Almost Blue Charles
1997 Black Scorpion II Argyle
1999 Twin Falls Idaho Jesus
Palmer's Pick-Up Tom Bolza
Graham's Diner
2001 Jackpot Lester Irving
How High PCC Agent
2003 Connecting Dots Henry
2005 The Salon Percy
2007 Implanted Kadar Short film
Who's Your Caddy? The Reverend
Frank Billy Hamilton
Amenic Amenic Short film
2008 Dog Gone Police Chief
The Longshots Reverend Pratt
2009 Bed Ridden Billings Short film
Just Like Family Leroy
Sonny Dreamweaver God
2010 Pickin' & Grinnin' Richard A. Trophey
2011 Valley of the Sun Joe
Let Go Donuts
2012 Pawn Shop Rey
Freeloaders Mr. Abaeze
2015 Ant-Man Cab Driver
2019 Grand-Daddy Day Care Arnold

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1960 CBS Workshop Episode: "The Bible Salesman"
1963 General Hospital Mouth Regular cast
1973 Roll Out Wheels Main cast
1974 Change at 125th Street Janitor TV movie
1975–80 Saturday Night Live Himself / cast member Main cast (season 1–5)
1978 ABC Weekend Special Frank Episode: "The Seven Wishes of Joanna Peabody"
1980 Easter Fever Jack Voice role;
TV movie
1982 Diff'rent Strokes Santa Claus / Mr. Jones Episode: "Santa's Helper"
1983 The Invisible Woman Lt. Greg Larkin TV movie
1983–84 The Jeffersons Jimmy Guest (season 9);
Recurring cast (season 10)
1984 At Your Service Dwayne TV movie
Masquerade Froog Episode: "The French Correction"
The New Scooby Doo Mysteries Additional voices Season 2
1984–85 It's Your Move Principal Dwight Ellis Recurring cast
1985 Murder, She Wrote Lafayette Duquesne Episode: "Murder to a Jazz Beat"
Hill Street Blues Derelict Recurring cast (season 5)
The Twilight Zone Jake Episode: "Dealer's Choice"
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Asam Ali Shamba Episode: "The Wrong Way Home"
Pound Puppies Chief Williams Voice role;
TV movie
1986 The Love Boat Gary Samuels Episode: "The Will / Déjà Vu/ The Prediction"
New Love, American Style Episode: "Love and the Teddy"
1986–89 Hunter Arnold "Sporty" James Guest (season 2);
Recurring cast (season 3-5)
1987 227 Bob Winslow Episode: "The Working Game"
1987–89 Married... with Children Russ 2 episodes
1988 Who's the Boss? Officer Audette Episode: "Sam's Car"
1991 Earth Angel Joey TV movie
1991–92 Roc Wiz Recurring cast (season 1)
1992 Maid for Each Other Harold Brown TV movie
1992–95 Martin Stan Winters Main cast (season 1–2);
Guest (season 3)
1993 Daddy Dearest Stan Episode: "American We"
1994 ER Edgar Luck Episode: "ER Confidential"
1995 The Wayans Bros. Uncle Leon / Himself Episode: "Goop-Hair-It-Is" & "The Poppa-Cabana"
Minor Adjustments Willie Episode: "The Ex-Files"
Cleghorne! Sidney Carlson Main cast
1996–2001 The Jamie Foxx Show Uncle Junior King Main cast
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Buzzard Voice role;
Episode: "Pinocchio"
Boston Common Sammy Sutherland Episode: "I.D. Endow"
1998 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Himself Episode: "Cahill"
1999 G vs E Kentucky McQuaid Episode: "Sunday Night Evil"
2000 City of Angels Dr. Frank Hollister Episode: "Prototype"
Static Shock Preacher Voice role;
Episode: "Child's Play"
Little Richard Carl Rainey TV movie
2001 Justice League Al McGee Voice role;
Episode: "In Blackest Night"
According to Jim Lewis Episode: "The Turkey Bowl"
The Hughleys Father Roberts Episode: "I'm Dreaming of a Slight Christmas"
2003 Maniac Magee Mr. Cobble TV movie
2005 Noah's Arc Rev. Allen 2 episodes
2006 All of Us Uncle Cyrus Episode: "Neesee's Grave Plot"
Family Guy Himself Episode: "Barely Legal"
2007 Halfway Home Jimmy the Mailman Episode: "Halfway Impotent"
Frangela Dave TV movie
2011 Shameless Old Priest Episode: "Three Boys"
2011–17 2 Broke Girls Earl Washington Main cast
2013 Psych Clizby Episode: "100 Clues"
2017 Rhett & Link's Buddy System Ignatius Recurring cast (season 2)
2018 MacGyver Willy Episode: "Mardi Gras Beads + Chair"
Scandal Hector Episode: "Army of One"
Knight Squad Old Fizzwick Episode: "Working on the Knight Moves"
This Is Us Lloyd Recurring cast (season 2);
Guest (season 3)
2019 A Black Lady Sketch Show Deacon Jones Episode: "Why Are Her Pies Wet, Lord?"
2020 Family Reunion Grand Sensei Shandu Episode: "Remember When Shaka Got Beat Up?"
Station 19 Earl Davis Episode: "Poor Wandering One"
Self Made Cleophus Walker Main cast
2021 Fairfax Albert Voice role;
Episode: "Fairfolks"
Grand Crew Narrator Episode: "Pilot"
2023 How I Met Your Father Julian Episode: "Midwife Crisis"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Garrett Morris". Discogs. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  2. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' pioneer and NOLA native Garrett Morris to appear on 'Oprah'". April 11, 2011.
  3. ^ Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, 2019, p. 138
  4. ^ Patches, Matt (August 21, 2014). "My 'SNL': Testimonials From Cast Members Who Lived It". Grantland.com. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School · F.B. Eyes Digital Archive: FBI Files on African American Authors and Literary Institutions Obtained Through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)". WUSTL Digital Gateway Image Collections & Exhibitions. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  6. ^ https://www.chicagomag.com/arts-culture/so-hard-to-say-goodbye-the-oral-history-of-cooley-high/
  7. ^ "Garrett Morris on Saturday Night Live". NBC. Retrieved December 17, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Hill, Doug; Weingrad, Jeff (1986). Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. New York City: Beech Tree Books. ISBN 0-688-05099-9.
  9. ^ "The Census Taker (1984)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2011. Archived from the original on December 7, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  10. ^ Michals, Bob (January 3, 1985). "Things Are Beginning To Look 'Berry Good' For Garrett Morris". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  11. ^ "Comedian Garrett Morris shot in Los Angeles holdup attempt". The Baltimore Sun. February 25, 1994. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  12. ^ "New Miller Lite Beer Commercial Starring Garrett Morris, Jason Weaver...and Stacey Dash!". WPGC. March 31, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 16, 2011). "Scott Porter To Star in CW's 'Hart Of Dixie', More Actors Board Pilots". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  14. ^ Seidman, Robert (June 29, 2011). "CBS Announces Fall 2011 Premiere Dates". TV By the Numbers. Archived from the original on July 1, 2011. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  15. ^ Burlingame, Russ. "Ant-Man's Most Overlooked Cameo: Ant-Man Himself". Comicbook.com.
  16. ^ ABC (September 10, 2016). "Alfonso Ribeiro versus Garrett Morris! - Celebrity Family Feud". Archived from the original on December 11, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2019 – via YouTube.

External links[edit]